Speed Reads

clownin' around

Rogue clowns are taking over this California town

Halloween might still be more than two weeks away, but the frights are coming early to one town in central California. More than 20 clown sightings have been reported to police in the city of Bakersfield, which is roughly halfway between Fresno and Los Angeles, The Christian Science Monitor reports. Residents describe figures donning wigs, oversized shoes, and facepaint — while wielding weapons for an extra scare factor, police said.

The schtick apparently originated with an artist in Wasco, California, a town about 20 miles northwest of Bakersfield. The so-called "Wasco Clown" has been photographed at town haunts by his wife as part of a year-long photography project of hers, he revealed in an anonymous interview.

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As for the Bakersfield clowns, they appear to be just copycats with the intent to fright more than artistically delight. One teenage clown was arrested after he chased some adolescents around town, police said, while other jokesters have been spotted via ominous photos on social media.